tv [untitled] May 1, 2011 4:00pm-4:30pm PDT
>> i am ross mirkarimi, supervisor of our illustrious district 5. i am honored to be welcoming all of you to our district town hall budget meeting with major league and a well-represented sf of city hall. we will get into quite a few issues. i just want to say how much i am delighted to see all of you. if you will do me a favor and show a little pride for dick -- district 5, how about a round of applause for our great district and great city hall staff? i have to tell you, we have been together all day.
we have watched a good portion of district 5 in the fillmore, in and around the area, and i have to say how ratifying it was to be with the mayor in the fillmore, talking about truancy, talking about public safety, talking with da gascon, and we want to get down to brass tacks issues, not as public safety, but the root causes of job placement, giving our youth something to aspire to, giving an adult something they can turn to, being able to reach out. that is what tonight is part of.
it is not just but district 5, but citywide. we are facing the fifth year. there is a chronic budget deficit, or fourth year. it feels like the fourth year. we have navigated the budget in previous years. the difference in those years, there it is federal and state help. those deficits were considerably more than the local deficit we are facing now. the difference is that safety net that we would sometimes depend on from the federal and state government is not there now. san francisco is very much on its own. i have a hope and confidence that san francisco, for the partnership of the mayor's office and the departments and the board of supervisors, is able to navigate effectively
this budget season, and also to balance the deficit, but not to the exclusion of us not taking care of the people here in district 5 in the fillmore and the surrounding neighborhoods. i know that is what many of you have come here tonight, making sure the non-profit organizations, the service support agencies, are getting the support that they routinely expect and that they need. we will go into that discussion tonight. there are a lot of people here represented from all agencies. i will give the microphone to those who want to introduce themselves. we have a special guest in addition to all the other vip's. our new police chief, please give him a warm -- i think it is
an exciting milestone. i'm going to start by asking trent to introduce himself and pass it down. then i will handed off to mayor lee. >> i'm the director of the human services agency. it is an agency with two departments. >> i am henry from the san francisco housing authority, and we do all of the public housing within the area, including here in district 5. >> ed harrington, general manager of the public utilities commission. i am from the public utilities commission. is that any better? somebody turned it up. thank you. we bring you water and sewer services and power services in san francisco. thank you. >> ann, working with older
adults and young girl adults with disabilities. >> bob, the acting superintendent of recreation community services. i want to welcome everyone to beautiful hamilton recreation center, and $18 million project. we also have kimball across the street. we're excited about the capital projects and all the things going on. i also want to take a shameless plug to plug our summer camp. we have over 350 kids signed up. if you have kids, please go to sfrecpark.org. >> i'm greg wagner, the budget director. >> i am the other greg from the health department. >> my name is paul, representing the san francisco planning department tonight and working closely with folks in japantown. >> the evening. i am with the mta. we always see transportation in the -- we oversee transportation
in the city. >> i am the third greg on the panel, chief of police. >> ann of northern station. >> ed riskin of the department of public works. >> i maria, director for the department of children, youth, and their families. >> ladies and gentlemen -- >> thank you. thank you. thank you. can everybody hear me? all right. you may not see me, but you can hear me. ed lee, your mayor. i'm happy to join supervisor mirkarimi and all of the department heads here tonight. this is the ninth of the 10 town hall meetings we had all of the city to introduce to you the
challenge of our budget, but most importantly, to listen to you tell us what san francisco's priorities ought to be, and i have been doing this because i believe that our budget should never be decided within just the halls of city hall, that we have to go out to every community and open up the dialogue and allow you to tell us those priorities. i made that promise to the board of supervisors. all of our budget should reflect what people need, what people want the most, and then we tell you what the challenges are. we work together to resolve those. i am here tonight to represent hopefully an open dialogue with you about those needs and those priorities, and to engage you in that discussion with us. no major decision has been made on the budget yet.
we are very close to a time frame in which the input of the public will be registered with us, and in addition to these town hall meetings, i have been holding meetings with community- based organizations throughout the city, both in city hall, as well as like this afternoon, when we met at the african culture center, when we met with fifth year 60 community-based agencies, telling us what they needed for us to keep in mind as we went through this very trying time. we have a $306 million gap $306 million deficit to fill. out of a $6.6 billion the budget. we will go into more detail about how this will break down. the instructions that i have given to the departments, and to the commissions have been very simple and i want to share them with you tonight.
i want for the city to be safe. so that all of you feel that this is one reason you want to live here. not just for yourself but for the friends that you invite, and not only are safe but they feel safe. i also of the city to feel safe because we have a set of social services that the city can help provide in concert with the community, so that those adorable marble, the seniors and the youth, people with disabilities, and others who are challenged, and services that they can rely on to be safe, so that they can live decent lives. the city should be safe. i also want this to be a solvent city, that we have programs to pay for and afford. we cannot afford to go into debt
so that we leave every year in front of us with unpaid bills. that will just make the city more difficult to manage. this is why we're doing a couple of things this year differently from other years. we are talking about trying to plan better with this budget, to think about the five-year financial plan for the city. if you plan better, just like you do at home, if you plan a budget better, you will get the things that you need. if things happen and you do not plan for them, and you should have seen them, you -- we will always be in trouble. i am looking for something that will make us solvent in the future, this is the pension system that has been eating into the general fund. a good third of this at
increases in the pensions and the employee costs that we have not taken care of. part of the long-term solution i am working on is to make certain that the whole city family is working on a plan to lower the deficit as part of the increased costs. we will talk about that later and we will answer questions as well. i have a safe city i want to have, and a solvent city, and finally, we want to have a successful city. the reason that success is there is because i wanted to ask yourself, what brought you to send francisco? what made you make the investment that you made, that got you into a neighborhood? what brought me here was the excitement of being in a city that was culturally diverse.
a city that respected all different cultures and ways of life. a city where you could talk to people without being offended by what people brought up. the city understanding diversity, celebrating everything that we were doing in this city. if this is going down the street in a dedicated, green lane, with huge conventions going into town, with people who can speak german and japanese, to find their way into your neighborhood with japan town -- and these great restaurants. a city with great nightclubs, the bring over a million people here on a daily basis, to find their way for jobs and all the other things. this is a successful city. the diversity and the strong neighborhoods in the different languages, things that we love about the city.
those principles, of the same city and a successful city, that is what i wanted. now we have a difficult decision, how do we bridge the gap of the budget, and how do we make certain that this decision does not hurt people more, and maintain the level of services that they want and keeps you excited about the city, and keeps you committed to being here. i want to throw out to the civic engagement staff tonight, and through an agreement last with the board of supervisors, we funded part of the city administrator's office to make certain that we have language capabilities, not just in these capabilities by -- they have people on staff tonight to make certain, that english is not your first language, you can communicate your concerns to the city staff tonight. thank you very much for the
civic engagement. i want to thank all of you for coming out and spending your time. i appreciate the input that you give here, and i take your comments seriously. thank you very much. >> thank you. before i pass off the microphone, to give you a more detailed framework about the budget and what we are trying to advocate with us, i want to remind a few people that we have chairs up here, and we have this in the bleachers back there. you are welcome to join us up here. if anyone's need -- if anyone needs language translation, but the volunteer staff over here know. i want for people to know the
number of representatives -- they have the tables in the back. and maybe after this particular town hall, you may want to engage in see how you can help to get involved. i want to thank everyone for being here. we are going to leave the town hall to questions. many of these questions are written out. if you would like to ask a question, you can do so. if you want to -- i am more than happy to a identify who wrote the question. mr. wagner? >> thank you. i am the budget director, and my role with the city is try to -- trying to work with the mayor to make decisions about how we are going to balance the budget.
i will be brief but i want to take you through a couple pieces of information about what we are facing over the next couple of months as we try to balance the budget, and we touched on a number of the big themes. but a couple of numbers behind us, as you know, for the last several years, we have had budget deficits in the city government. the reason for this is very clear. when the economy is in trouble, and this has been in trouble for the last few years, this affects the city budget. the tax revenue that we depend on to pay for city services are tied to how well the economy is moving along. when the economy is slow and the businesses are not doing well, they're not paying taxes and make them into the city, they do
not use what we used to pay for the services. this has been the case over the last few years. we have a requirement in the city budget as the mayor has said, and we are different from the federal government in that we cannot borrow money or run the deficit. we are legally required, every year, the balance the budget so that the sources of money coming in are equal to the uses, the money going out. when we look ahead at the projections for the coming year, we can see that these are not in balance. the revenue is coming up a little bit. as the economy begins to level out, we have a long way to go. we have very tough economic times, but compared to the last few years, we're beginning to see a stabilization and a little
bit of a light at the end of the tunnel. we have a very long way to go. what this means is that next year, there will be an increase in revenue and this will not be as bad as it has been for the last few years. what we also see is that on the expenditures, if we do not change where we're headed, we have a growth of $344 million in projected spending. the revenue is not coming in fast enough to meet the spending growth, resulting in the $306 million deficit in the general fund. we are beginning to see some signs of good news in the economy, but we also have -- as the mayor has said, we have the state government and the federal government to worry about. they are planning to balance
their own budget and they will do this in part by passing off to the local government. we have this with the additional channels. to put this in perspective, the $306 million budget deficit. why is this a challenge with a $6.6 billion city budget. there are a number of reasons. the main one is that within the $6.5 million budget, we have different pieces of the budget that can be used for different purposes. the biggest distinction is -- is what is in the general fund. outside the general fund, we have departments like the airport and the public utilities commission, that generate their own revenues. within the city general fund, this is a little bit less than half of the budget. this is where tax dollars are
coming in, and the space for this service is not generating revenue, by parks and recreation, the health department. this is where the deficit this. within that $3 billion of the general fund, we also have restrictions on what to do with this money. as the mayor says, we have the obligations to the employees to pay out the health-care costs, and we have approved the restrictions on this money. we have the $6.5 billion budget. a large amount of this is flexible for us to make decisions, making policy choices about what we can change to close the deficit. $306 million in that perspective is almost 25% of the flexible
budget. this is a great challenge and that is why we are here tonight. we will be working on this in the mayor's office. we have been working very closely with the board of supervisors to make those decisions. i will leave it at that and turn its back over, and i'll be happy to answer questions. >> thank you, very much. i am going to start to read a number of questions that we have here, and again, if people want to fill loudspeaker cards, we are more than happy to get through them. i will ask the palace here from the city to be as brief as they can and i will try to read through as many of these statements as they are handed to me. this can be applied to a number of people, multiple people.
how can you make certain that the adjustment that the mayor referred to in allocating the budget will not be the same political hostile as the past? would you like to answer this? did your staff write this? it looks like a soft ball. >> political muscle is not in my dialogue. but i do want to say that i would not be holding some the town hall meetings if i was going to waste their precious time not adjusted accordingly. the adjustments, the reason i use the word adjustments this afternoon, was because i really want to say that we have to do things differently in the city. we have done with the budgets in the past, when i was the head of a department like all of these
others, i observed four people had to be marched in to save their programs. and if we agreed on the front end with the board of supervisors, we would not be dragging people to city hall to argue and cry over programs that we all agree are important. we're trying to change this and bring in some transparency, trying to bring some agreement on the front end of the process with the board of supervisors. the only thing i can say to you is that i am not going anywhere. i am not running for another office. i am just going to stay in the city and take responsibility for the decisions we will make together so that my work with the board of supervisors, i want four things to move more efficiently, and be less damaging to the neighborhoods. this is all but i can say. i hope that you trust this.
that is probably why you are out here. this is how we are trying to do this. thank you very much. >> another question that we have, do not hold back or be shy. these are a couple questions with the same theme,, and there is a wonderful organization that many of you know about -- it was born about four years ago and this was partnered with the public defender's office, and my office, and this receives funding from the city, from many different sources, in particular from the department of youth and family. both of these people are asking what we will do to support this organization, they have done so much for our youth in this area.
i will probably hold it -- and this over to the director. >> we support their effort and without davis -- to be hard to communicate any kind of policy or program development. we definitely leverage all the resources that she brings to the table. we partner closely with the supervisor's office. and although i can say is that these collaborations are highly valued in the department. we encourage a lot of the non- profit partners to leverage, so that we know if a young person needs youth employment services, if they get into the fall -- came to the floor of academic support, we could hand them over to another program and
they could receive the services that they need. and every door will be the right door for the children. this is a great program for the city and we should have more of us. several years ago we had more, and a couple of those programs that were funded did not yield the same level of impact, and quality of services the same way that they have. that is why they are still around. and that is why we will continue to have them around. >> thank you. >> this question comes from plant, what does it take so long. what does it take so long to get any attention or graffiti and the dead trees that surround my condominium. these trees have never been trimmed despite many complaints.
instead, they have been killed by the lack of attention and nothing has been accomplished. this is a great question for the department of public works. >> thank you and good evening. i am at my own town hall meeting here and i will ask a question. there were couple of questions there. with graffiti, the goal -- and this is on public property, from the time we receive this, the goal that we have is to remove this within 48 hours. this is a goal that we are meeting 75% of the time and we want to get up to 90%. for the most part, when this has
been reported, this is the district with the highest number of reports of graffiti. we will get there within a couple of days. if you call this in, and this is not addressed, within a few days, you should let me know. we generally have the capability to do this. when this is private property, we cannot just remove the graffiti. we initially give the property owner 30 days, which is what the ordinance requires, and if this is not removed we can send somebody to the property and we will build them. the ability to do this was strengthened by legislation a couple of years ago. this is the ordnance that allows us to recover the cost to the taxpayer dollars that have been spent.
with regard to the street trees, this is the situation. most of the trees that lined the streets in san francisco, that are the responsibility of the property owner. i have a couple of trees and of my house and it is my job to keep them well maintained. some streets in san francisco -- for no reason, the city maintains those trees. i am responsible to maintain my trees, my neighbor -- the responsibility is done by the city. we have three crews responsible for maintaining tens of thousands of street trees in san francisco. the three of them cover the whole city and this is an adequate for us to do this. we are supposed to do this every three-five years but with